Abstract

In "The Costly Loss of Lament," Walter Brueggemann argues that the contemporary tendency to drop lament language ensures that victims remain voiceless and the status quo unchallenged. In doing so, however, Brueggemann describes lament as involving two parties—God and the psalmist—and does not adequately acknowledge its social element. This article pays increased attention to this third party of lament in order both to address Brueggemann's main theological concern and to reveal the crucial function of this form of speech at an ecclesial level. Social address to this broader community moves lament from an individual encounter with the divine into a profoundly social context that highlights the significance of a listening community committed to hear such cries and discern a faithful response. Heightened awareness of its social element reveals yet another significant cost of losing lament. By suppressing this form of speech, the faith community becomes increasingly deaf to cries for justice and loses its ability to discern the complex ambiguities they reflect. Eliminating the scriptural means of being confronted by lament fosters a deaf, dumb, and immobilized faith community in the face of injustice, which may be the most costly loss of all.

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